Wed December 19, 2012

Fort Collins Enacts 7-Month Moratorium On Fracking

Fort Collins city council members have voted unanimously to halt new oil and gas development—including hydraulic fracturing—for seven months. The move comes as city officials are looking to write long-term rules around the practice, and state rules also appear to be in flux.

Oil production so far has been limited to the northeast part of Fort Collins. But recent developments in fracking technology have made companies very interested in expanding exploration.

The moratorium means new oil and gas development or fracking can’t happen within the city’s boundaries for the next seven months. It will not affect the city’s existing seven oil wells, or its seven fracking injecting wells.

City officials are considering new rules around water quality monitoring and zoning requirements for how closely oil wells can be placed near high density areas, schools and hospitals.

At the same time, Colorado’s energy regulators are deciding whether to increase the minimum required distance between oil and gas drilling site and buildings and homes. At a hearing earlier this month Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission considered increasing the distance from a 150-foot distance to a 350-foot distance. A final hearing in January is expected to finalize the decision.

The Colorado legislature is also expected to take up the issue of how much local control municipalities can have when it comes to regulating hydraulic fracturing.

According to the Coloradoan, Fort Collins voters may also see an April municipal ballot that would establish an outright ban on fracking, similar to one in Longmont.

The Fort Collins moratorium will go into effect on Dec. 28 and end July 31.